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Upgrading the Supply Chain

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2019 May 17th (Friday).  Evening.  Cloudy, temps in high 60s/low 70s.


On Shelley Road, in one of many squat gray buildings that dotted the neighborhood, was the Southside Family Medical Center.  It was several blocks from the middle-class safety centered on Freedom College campus or the Jordan International Airport, and primarily served the far too numerous amount of uninsured people of Southside.  They received some funding government grants and local charities, but it was not nearly enough to give adequate care to all who came through their doors.  And many did come through their doors: college kids who partied too hard and didn't want any records, victims of gang shootings, and perfectly law-abiding citizens stuck in hazardous low-income jobs, whose poverty charged interest on their bodies.


There was always some shortage or other of supplies, though most days they managed to make things stretch.  Equipment too worn out even for West End's Trinity Hospital often wound up here, juuust functional enough to not be complete scrap.  For the past few days, a "freelance technician" had been coming by to see about keeping their gear in functional order.  He'd simply appeared on day a few weeks ago, in dingy overalls and a large tool belt, working at several such clinics throughout the area.  The first few clinics were initially skeptical of this "Patch Menderson," but a lack of references or papers (and obviously fake name) were far from unusual in these parts, and his skills and oddly charming nature spoke for themselves.  


And so it was that on a May evening, as he left the struggling medical center, the path of "Patch Menderson" -- in reality Herr Doktor Viktor Archeville, working incognito and trying a new method of helping others -- crossed with one of Southside's more unusual defenders...

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Alexanders Lloydd was a common sight in southside, Wether on a walk, A ride on his motor cycle or lending a hand with various odd jobs and chores from the residents or under his nom de plume solving more....pugilistic problems that cropped up.


Usually the latter had gotten the jump on him patrolling or not but he'd managed to turn the tables each and every time.


That's what brought him to shelley road tonight, it was one of the rougher areas of his neighbour hood and there was no better place to look for the starting of trouble than in the SFMC.

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"Patch" was crossing the street just as Alexander sped around the corner on his motorcycle.  An outside observer would have seen the repairman be grazed by the bike as it sped by, knocking him down onto the pavement.  Any locals who knew of Facsimile might think this a bit unusual, since that hero had a reputation for being a skilled driver and having a very good eye.  And, indeed, Alexander had seen the figure as he was stepping off the curb, and swerved to avoid him by several inches.


But this was no ordinary man.


Yowza, that guy's in a hurry.  Oh, hold on -- that horse stencil on the bike, I've seen that, the Knights of Anarchy.  I've been meaning to look more into them, and now could be the perfect opportunity.  Maybe a 'clipped pedestrian' ruse would garner their attention.


All this ran through Archeville's mind in a flash, so he was able to react fast enough that Alexander saw him in his rear view mirror spin and fall into the middle of the street.  Perhaps the young hero had misjudged how far he had needed to swerve to avoid the bystander?!

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Facsimile brought his bike to a controlled but sudden stop, kicking the stand down and racing to go check on the man he'd sent crashing to the floor.


"Oh man I'm so sorry, I was certain I'd swerved enough to avoid you, are you OK?" Facsimile asked as he reached down and tried to help the man to his feet.


"You need me to call you an ambulance or something?"

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Ah, he is stopping and coming back to check on me, Archeville thought, that's a good sign.  Unless he's stopping to see what can be taken off my corpse.  Hrm.  Best to stay cautious.


"Oh, that's quite alright, young man," the repairman replied, taking the offered hand clad in fingerless gloves.  He was a fairly unremarkable man, in blue overalls over an orange long-sleeved shirt, and long brown hair tied into a tight braid.  His skin was fair, and his hands slightly rough.  "That will teach me to look both ways before crossing the- oh!"


He was halfway up when they both saw an unexpected sight.  Once Alexander's fingers brushed against the man's wrist, his powers kicked in.  Normally this would not be much of an issue, since mimicking flesh just meant his skin tone would shift to match that of the person he'd touched.  But this man's flesh was not flesh, not entirely.  Alexander's fingers metamorphosed into a weird shifting hybrid of circuitry, flesh, and metal, and the change continued up his arm and across his chest. The effect crawled up the side of his neck and jaw, down his abdomen and hip.  In the blink of an eye, half his body had been transformed into this strange technorganic substance, and it did not show any sign of stopping.

Edited by Dr Archeville
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'I'm glad you're OOH MY GOD!" Facsimile yelled in suprise as his flesh began to transmute in a wave of white heat and light into the techno-organic composite.


His voice shifting not only in volume but also in tone to that of a semi-synthesised blare as he pulled back and examined his hands.


It wasn't the first time his powers had run amok on him but it was always a suprise when they did.


That was not the issue however, the problem was that this seemingly unassumung pedestrian was made of...no integrated with some serious technology, the likes of which he'd last encountered in his foray off world at one of black star's fortresses.


Quickly scrambling to regain his balance and composure he dropped into a ready stance and with a rather more composed tone posed the eternal question.


"Friend or Foe?"

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"Friend!  Friend!," he repeated, scrambling up to his feet and looking with a mix of awe and terror at the transforming youth.  "Ohhh boy, this has never happened before, it's never spread like this... I always feared it would, but..."  He held up one hand, fingers splayed wide, and waved it in Alexander's direction, "wait, no, that's not... it's you that's... oh!" 


Archeville had reconfigured his eyes and hand to act as an assortment of medical scanners, and now had a better idea of what was going on.  "Okay, okay, your other hand, quick," he took a few steps back, just in case his proximity was a factor, "touch the pavement and absorb it, mimic it, whatever you do, that should stop you from mimicking me.  And even if it doesn't, you're going to be okay, this will just be temporary.  I'm a Doktor, I'm here to help," he said in his most reassuring tone.  "Just stay calm, focus on the road, the asphalt, the minerals in there."

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"Well I guess nows as good a time as ever for some rocky road..." Facsimile chuckled nervously as he dropped onto to his knee and touched his fingers to the asphalt, sure enough his fingers found it and from there it began to spread up his arm and over his body till it met with the techno-organic flesh.


No matter how hard he had tried or how long he had practised the use of his gift he had never been able to hold more than one atomic structure, this was the closest he had ever came.


Where humble asphalt and biotechnology met there was a brief struggle,  his genetics it seemed were confused by the nature of his own (albeit heavily enhanced) flesh being a mimicry and so his skin dried and cracked as the lines shifted and one way and then another until at last asphalt won out over it, perhaps because he had remained in contact with the subject of that mimicry and continued to pull more and more of it in?


"Seems like that was the road to success after all."  He sighed relieved as he watched the minor injuries (now tiny fissures in his asphalt flesh) begin to close up.

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"Yes indeed, I see you've ample drive," he replied, deadpan, "and found a way out of your predicament.  In the future, though, I would suggest you be more careful where you place your hands -- full gloves, not fingerless ones, might let you avoid court-ing such predicaments."


And then a grin broke out across his face, and he let out a soft chuckle.  "Sorry, sorry, you reminded me of someone I know," he said, briefly recalling a certain brash young swordsman.  "I am quite relieved to see that worked -- how do you feel now?  Does this ability of yours -- a quite remarkable one, if you don't mind my saying -- does it frequently pop up like that, without your meaning it to?  I, ah," he fished around in the pockets of his overalls and tool belt, "I know some people who might be able to help you, if you're interested."

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"Haha! You're good at this." Facsimile laughed heartily abd almost slammed an asphalt hand onto the Doktor's shoulder before remembering himself and instead brought it back to rest at his side.


"Not often no; Usually I have pretty good Control...lotsa practise ya see?  I think it's when I'm panicking or stressed I'll like...panic grab onto something with it though if that makes sense..." He spared a look around the street to see that no one was eavesdropping.


"That'd be great actually...I mean I uh...went to school." He trailed off hoping the ephasis would carry his meaning. "Just graduated even! But they mostly just lemme hang in the Wreck room and figure it out on my own tI'll I wasn't in danger of like...spotaniously combusting or the like."

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"I've had some practice with this sort of thing," he said a bit sheepishly, preparing to roll with the super-strong slap that did not come.  Okay, he is aware of his own strength, that's promising.


"Practice is good, yes," he agreed, nodding, "be it with skills or superpowers.  That's part of why I'm down here, actually," he gestured back towards the medical center with one hand, and jiggled his tool belt with the other, "plus, you know, pitching in for the good of the community.  Something that," he looked him up and down, "I would hope a young man of your talents would also be interested in?"


They have a school for training young metahumans?  Amazing!  I didn't see anything about that when I was at Freedom Hall last month... so it's probably not a public institution.  But who, and where- no, no, I've got enough on my schedule as is, I don't need to tackle that mystery.

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"Yeah! Well I've been trying...brole a biker gang away from some bad influences....they gave me a sweet stencil on my bike in thanks." He gestured towards the parked up harley.


"If you want we can go somewhere a little more private to talk more? I'm friends with most of the business owners round these parts...Usually stop at Joe's diner for some food around now." He offered openly as he released his asphalt mimicry and examined his skin suspiciously like he'd never seen it before.


"Looks like it's back to normal....cool."

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"You saved an entire biker gang?!" he asked, awe creeping into his voice.  "How did you manage that?  Was it a particular person or group of people trying to lead them astray, or more," he gestured vaguely around them, "nebulous societal ills?  Are you as skilled at changing hearts and minds as you are at changing your own flesh?"


Scores of questions about the young man's abilities ran through Archeville's mind, but he tried to put those aside for the moment and focus on getting to know the young man before him.  "Ah, yes, privacy would be better -- I'm sure you have some questions about why what happened when you touched me happened, which I would prefer not to announce out here" he glanced about, "in the middle of the street.  If you think this Joe's Diner will give us some privacy, then please, lead on."  As he walked with the young man, he technopathically connected to the internet and began searching for reviews of Joe's Diner, so he'd have some idea of what he was going in for.  He looked over at the bike again, "you wouldn't happen to have an extra helmet, would you?"

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"Yeah it was some guy called Sir Prize and his moll Annie key really, just robbing banks and using them as a distractions."


"Yeah actually! Uhh my friend has customized it a little...very...eclectic tastes." He said as he opened the storage and removed a pink helmet covered in stickers of various and disjointed things.


"Yeah it's pretty dead at night and he's a cool guy, hop on and we'll be off."

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"'Sir Prize'?  Was he done up like a knight?  Seems I read something about knights on motorcycles once," he stroked his chin in thought, "at Ren Faires or some such.  Don't think it ever caught on.  And robbing banks?"  He clucked his tongue and shook his head, remembering the last time he'd encountered some bank robbers, "hope no one got hurt!"


While still mentally connected to the internet, he did a search on bank robberies + bikers + Sir Prize, hoping to find some more info on those events and on the young man before him who had stopped them.


"Oh, that is interesting!," he exclaimed as he was handed the helmet.  Wow, I have no idea what half of these are!  I'll do an image capture now, run an image search later.  After camera eyes snapped some quick photos, he put on the helmet, then took out some leather gloves from his tool belt and pulled them on.  "Just in case," he said with a chuckle, then hopped on and prepared for an interesting ride.

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"Hah, like your enthusiasm!" Facsimile chimed as he mounted the bike and carefully kicked the stand back up and into place.


"Joe's it 5 mins from here I think, give or take..." He pondered thinking about his route "do a little sweep through the streets on the way; It seems like a quiet night but you never can tell!"


And with that he revved the engine to life and pulled out into the traffic at the earliest opening.


He had plenty of questions for the dok himself but they could wait till they were seated and enjoying some of Dave's (The owner of Joe's) Fries and shakes.

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I can easily fly faster than this bike can go, Archeville thought to himself, not to mention teleport instantly, but it is nice to ride sometimes.  And I've not been on one of these since my high school days!


The repairman whooped and laughed and hollered, clearly enjoying the ride.  When they got to Joe's Diner, he was softly chuckling as he dismounted.  "That's a fast machine you've got there, young man!  Did the Knights of Anarchy do that, or was that an upgrade you did yourself?"


If this man proves to be on the up-and-up, I can think of several upgrades he may be interested in.

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Facsimile hummed as he dismounted and poured over his less than perfect memories of various encounters and tinkering sessions involving his bike.


"Uh little bit...kinda." Facsimile offered unsure all in all "I mean I got a real good sense of touch so I been replacing parts of it that are off balance or have microfractures..." He wasn't sure that would've done anything for the speed of the bike all in all.


"Oh you know the Knights of anarchy then? They're pretty goofy....in love with the romanticism of the whole knights in shining armour thing...not a lot of tech heads among them beyond repairing em from the jousts....was prolly one of my tech head friends who tuned it up on a repair job for me." He reasoned as he placed his own Helmet under his arm and with his bike secured against theft (as much as something reasonably could be especially in Freedom city.) Headed towards the small and very american retro diner beneath the glowing pink neon sign that simply read Joe's


"Lets grab a booth and make an order and we can chat whilst we're eating!"

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I'd wager your sense of touch is better than 'good,' young man, he thought, if your ability to mimic materials can tie into that.  How fascinating.


"Oh, ah, no, no, I don't know them," he stammered, realizing that the young man had never said the name of the biker gang.  He handed over his helmet so Alexander could stow it away properly.  "I just remembered a newspaper article about those bank robberies you'd mentioned, and a piece in Hot Bike about rising cycle gangs.  Both showed machines with that horse design stenciled on them, so I figured they were the same."  This was partially true: he had first heard of the Knights of Anarchy in an article in Hot Bike, a magazine he subscribed to for the bike care tips.  The newspaper clippings were ones he'd just recently accessed, on the ride over.  "I'm surprised to hear they don't have any dedicated mechanics, though," he said as he followed the young man in, "even if they are fully committed to the Medieval aesthetic, they'd need someone to make sure their bikes are in working order.  Knights needed someone to look after their steeds, after all!"

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"Mmm maybe they were just really into playing up the whole tourney aspect then and some were? Or maybe they have a few friends here and there, none knights who they trust enough to let at their "steeds" ya know?" Facsimile pondered aloud as he poured over the menu a little more intently before seemingly deciding on what he wanted and setting it down in front of the old man


"My treat seeing as I nearly ran you over." He stated "mind telling me more about yourself and that crazy tech you got going on whilst we wait on our food? Stuff that advanced I've only seen stuff that advanced when I went to space and at ASTRO labs."

Edited by Exaccus
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"They'd have to have someone, wouldn't they?," he nodded along, glancing over the laminated menu, "and I'd imagine it'd be someone they trust, if not one of their own.  Maybe someone secluded... oh," he laughed, "like their version of Merlin!"


He glanced about to make sure no one was looking their way, "yes, well, there's a reason for that," he pointed to his left hand.  The holodisguise over it shimmered away, revealing the shifting hybrid of circuitry, flesh, and metal that he had experienced moments ago.  He turned his left hand so it was palm up, "I was not always like this.  In fact," an action figure-sized hologram appeared in his hand, indistinct at first but slowly coming into focus, "I used to look quite different.  And quite recognizable."  The image resolved into a man in a flowing white labcoat and flowing golden blonde hair, holding a blinking wand-like device in one hand.


He extended his right hand to Alexander, "Herr Doktor Viktor Archeville, at your service."

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Ah now there was a name he had been told to run in the other direction from at his top speed not only in public school but also in Claremont. 


"I see...." Facsimile hummed as he cautiously reached out to shake the Doktor's hand not sure if he would again catch the sillicone skin condition but he now had some idea of how to deal with it so he followed through   "folks call me facsimile, sometimes other things depending on the uh...texture I've taken on." He laughed


"Fat mummy....bandage boy, hammer head, bolt brain....caramelgeddon lord of the achocolypse that one time."

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Okay, so he's clearly recognized the name, but he didn't bolt, or slug me.  This is good.


"I'm sure there's a fascinating story behind that one," he replied as he shook Facsimile's hand, and restored the holodisguise over his other one.  "Would you mind if I asked you some questions about your abilities?  I like to-," he stopped himself before saying 'keep tabs on,' knowing how sinister that might sound, "be aware of the metahumans operating in the city.  Especially those of a heroic nature, who I might could offer some assistance to.  Well," he tilted his head slightly, "I've attempted to help rehabilitates some of the criminal ones, too, with varying degrees of success." 

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"Oh uh...well I don't exactly know everything myself but...I guess there's no harm in telling you what I know about what I can do." It wouldn't be fair after all to judge someone for their past mistakes...especially since he's nearly inadvertently destroyed reality very recently.


"I guess you know the basics already...let's do a back and forth thing, you ask me one and I'll ask you one."

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"Sounds more than fair!" he replied with an enthusiastic smile, "and I guess my first question will be- oh, hold on a moment."


A waitress had stopped by and asked for their orders.  Dok ordered coffee and the "old timer's" breakfast platter, with eggs, thick bacon, hash browns, and toast.  "Patch" sweet talked the waitress a bit, and talked her into getting the cook to add some diced onions and jalapeños to his potatoes.


"Now, where was I," he said as she walked off with both their orders, "ah, yes -- so how long have you been able to do what you do?  Is this a relatively new thing, or could you do this as a child?"

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